Meet The Author Monday – Tracee de Hahn

Today on Meet The Author Monday, we have Tracee de Hahn, who launched the first of her Agnes Luthi Mysteries books, Swiss Vendetta,  on February 7th, 2017. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Tracee will be in GREEN.
Swiss Vendetta cover final  copy.jpg
Thanks for stopping by Tracee. I hope your book launch is going well. I understand your love affair with reading has an interesting start.
My mother taught me to read at a very early age (probably because I rolled off a changing table and she started the flash cards to counter the imagined brain damage!). I truly can’t remember not being able to read…. from the time I was in pre-school I had my nose in a book.

Watch for ink on the nose that way. What genre usually pulls you in?
Mystery first (expand it to suspense….). Then historical fiction. Third would probably be some of the classics (Jane Austin, Tolstoy)

Mother got you reading, but I understand it was your father who inspired you to write?
My father had the idea for a screen play and since I loved to read he asked me about it. We taught ourselves and moved on to write a few thrillers together. I was practicing architecture and my father is a physician so we had to learn together. It was a lot of fun. I kept writing and shifted to mystery – as my first love!

I suppose it is pretty easy to guess your chosen genre to write then, isn’t it?
Mysteries!

I had guessed that would be your answer. Ho was your journey from idea to publishing that first mystery?
I had a friend read a manuscript and insist I had to submit it. I realized she wouldn’t let it go, so I went to the Alkongian Writers Conference in NY – the pitch fest. That was a wonderful in to the world of writers and publishing. I met my agent there (Paula Munier of Talcott Notch) and very quickly I signed with St Martins/Minotaur for a two book deal. I’ve found that conferences are an amazing way to meet fellow writers and also learn about the profession.

Congratulations again on the signing. That’s amazing. Aside from writing, tell my readers a little bit about your personal life? Do you have a day job, and what other hobbies do you pursue?
Writing is my day job right now (lucky me!). I have too many hobbies – painting (portraits are my favorite but that doesn’t mean I’m any good. Dogs are better than people in terms of results….), travel (Europe and India right now), cooking (I’m a follow the recipes person mainly! My husband is the truly creative cook).
My husband is Swiss, and living there for several years is the inspiration for my book. Lastly we have two Jack Russell Terriers, and one Flemish Giant Rabbit (that came with the house)!

Painting and writing, quite the creative. Suppose you had to leave something for your husband to be the experimental one with, huh? It’s been a pleasure getting to know you Tracee and I wish you continued success with your books. Maybe stop back by when book two is ready for publication and we can update everyone.

For those looking for more information or to follow up on Tracee’s work, you can find her at the following links.

Website
Twitter: @LuthiMysteries
Instagram
Pinterest

 

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Meet The Author Monday – Kevin McAllion

Today on Meet The Author Monday, we have Kevin McAllion, a Scotsman whose first novel, Moristoun, was released in March of 2016. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Kevin will be in GREEN.

kevinmcallion

Thanks for stopping by today, Kevin. I always like to get started hearing what brought an author into the literary world as a reader first, as that is how many of us got our start.
I was obsessed by football as a kid and only read magazines such as 90 minutes and Four-Four-Two but I started off in fiction with a selection of Woody Allen short stories and was hooked. The first writer I really loved was Roddy Doyle and I rattled through his Barrytown trilogy in a matter of weeks. The most famous of these books is The Commitments but my favourite was The Snapper as the main character was Jimmy Senior and he always had the funniest lines. Since then, I’ve been reading more stuff from foreign writers, thanks to my brother who introduced me to the likes of Gunter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera. The great thing about these authors is that you learn about other countries and cultures as well as immersing yourself in a great story.

That’s one of the greatest things about the digital age is being able to “travel” to these other lands so much easier. What genre sparks your interest the most?
I really enjoy books that marry a fascinating story with politics, especially those that shine a light on oppressive regimes. My favourite is The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge which captures the horror and paranoia of the Soviet Union during Stalin’s great purge. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa also gives great insight into a despot from South America, as does the brilliant Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Great books should always make you question the world we live in and these ones, while painful to read in parts, do just that.

I think you have certainly given us all some books to think about adding to our To-Read piles. From prolific reader to writer, what spawned this jump for you?
The turning point for me was buying a book from a charity shop that was a compilation of work from contemporary Scottish writers. As I read through each story, I thought: ‘If they can do it, why not me?’ It made me realise that you could write about Scottish issues and people and still make it entertaining. There was also a part of me that secretly thought: ‘I could do better than that’ as I read some of the stories and that gave me the extra push I needed.

A little healthy competitive streak never hurts for motivation. Do you consider yourself a writer of a specific genre? Or do you dabble in several?
I try to write in a comedic style, mainly just to amuse myself first and foremost. I’ve only written one book so far and if I don’t follow it up with another I’ll be forever pigeon-holed as a writer of black comedies.

They say laughter is the best medicine, even if it is dark humor. Share with my readers a little about your journey as a writer and publishing your first novel.
I’ve worked as a sports journalist since I was 19, when I started writing football match reports while studying at university. Since then, I’ve worked for a number of newspapers in Scotland. I currently work as a production journalist, editing, designing and reading pages. After dabbling with several attempted novels and bits of poetry, I came up with the idea for Moristoun in 2012. It took me nine months to finish the first draft, motivated by the desire to get it finished before my daughter was born, then another year to edit the manuscript. I contacted a few agents to see if they would be interested in it but one of them actually turned out to be a publisher, Austin Macauley. They liked the first three chapters, asked me to send the full manuscript then offered me a deal after reading that.
kevinmcallion-moristoun
A dream come true then to find a publisher to pick you up. From the picture it’s clear you have a little one in the house. They can be a handful. When you aren’t working on that second comedic book, what passions do you enjoy?
I work full time as a journalist and have a daughter who is four years old so free time is very much of the premium. Despite losing most of my pace, I still run about every week masquerading as a footballer and occasional embarrass myself on a tennis court. Music and reading are my other passions, something I can thankfully enjoy in tandem.

Sounds like you have a busy schedule to keep, Kevin. I understand that you have another project that you work on that is a bit entertaining. Tell me about it.
I run the world’s only spoof online monkey park, rhesuspark.com. What started off as a made-up newsletter and pamphlet for a desktop publishing exercise in 1999 has now spawned into a monster of a website that continues to grow arms and legs. My made-up nonsense often convinces gullible people on Twitter that there is actually a dysfunctional monkey park operating in the heart of leafy Shropshire. If you fancy making the acquaintance of Rhesus Park CEO David Alsatian you can follow him on Twitter @rhesuspark

A fake Monkey Park. Sounds worth a look. I want to thank you again for stopping by and chatting with me. Good luck with your projects and don’t let those monkeys drive you bananas.

If anyone would like to check out Kevin’s projects and keep up to date with his monkey business, you can find him at the below links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter @Moristoun

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Launching Cloaked Press

Today, my Gentle Readers, I began the process to launch my own publishing company, Cloaked Press. You can see my Kickstarter project by Clicking Here

My goal with Cloaked Press is to publish two short story collections a year by collaborating with other authors. The Fall edition will be focused on Fantasy. Be it Epic or Urban, High or Paranormal; I love them all. For the Sprung Edition the focus is on Science Fiction: AI, space exploration, aliens, and technological warfare in cyberspace. 

My goal is ambitious but completely doable with your help. Share the link, tell your friends, and if you are so inclined, pledge a donation to the project. 

Thank you so much for all your support of my blog and I hope to bring you even more great stories and content in the future. 

Meet The Author Mondays – K. C. Blackbyrn

This week on Meet the Author Monday, we have self published Fantasy author, K. C. Blackbyrn, who released her first book, “Stirring Power“, late last year with the paperback going live early this year. As usual, we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and KC will be in GREEN.

StirringPower.jpg
KC, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today. Exciting times for you with the launch of your first book. What brought you to the literary world?
I was dedicated to the outdoors as a child, but then my mother sat me down and gave me a book to read. It was a fantasy book (I believe, as I was too young to remember properly). Ever since then, I read so much that I had glasses by age nine and the local library felt like my personal lounge. I’ve been reading libraries ever since (until I became a writer, that is).

Reading libraries huh? Never seems to be enough time for reading in my opinion. What’s your favorite genre?
Fantasy with a little romance mixed in has always been the genre that gets my brain gears going. Lately though, I bounce between fact, romance, and fantasy.

Fantasy is my favorite as well. I don’t mind a little mushy stuff. Haha. Is there a specific event that brought you across from reading the stories of others to writing your own?
I had been an avid reader for a few years at this point. I fell into a slump where I couldn’t find any books that interested me right away. I began to search the library lists and my search keywords became more and more elaborate until finally I decided I would write down on a word document what I really wanted to see in a story. That became a story itself.

That’s a good way to get started. Stirring Power is clearly a fantasy novel. Is this your passion or are their other works stirring around in your head?
I consider myself a fantasy novelist right at this moment because at this moment I’m devoting 100% of myself to fantasy stories. However, in the future there are some novels I would like to write that are in the romance and the thriller genres.

With your first book launched, what can you tell us about your journey to the world of being a published author?
I’m still a fledgling author so I believe my journey thus far is similar to most beginning self-publishers. Once my story was finished I tried to teach myself to market my book to agents. Having failed a few times I did some research and realized that self-publishing would allow for more freedom and so decided that was the path I wanted instead.

Self publishing does seem to be the wave of the future. The big publishing houses don’t seem to want anything but the same old big names. What interests do you have outside of reading and writing?
When not writing, I have a passion for martial arts. I currently practice Kung Fu, but have a previous black belt in Karate. Other than that, I have many “smaller” hobbies like crochet and taking walks, but my day job takes up a lot of my time so I usually have to put those smaller activities aside.

It’s always good to have a balance. I have heard that martial arts teach a lot about self discipline and perseverance, both traits handy for an author. Did you have anything funny you wanted to share with my readers before you go?
Something you might not know about me is that I have a horrible sense of direction. I’ve lived in the Seattle city for five years and I still need to look up directions to get where I’m going.

Thankfully in this digital age we have a map and gps system readily available on about any modern phone. Good luck with your book launch. It looks like one I will have to add to my ever growing To Be Read pile.

For anyone looking to find out more about KC and keep tabs on her progress with Book 2 in her series, you can locate her at the following links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Book Review – Honeymoon At The Hilton by Stephen B. Cooper

Honeymoon At The Hilton

Stephen B. Cooper

3 Stars

Before I get started on my review, I have to mention the obligatory Mature Content Warning on this one.

I was hesitant when Stephen approached me about reviewing his book, “Honeymoon at the Hilton”. I thought to myself, “What in the world is erotic espionage?” I worried there would be no story under the steamy and detailed sex scenes.

My worries were put to rest early on as Stephen delivers a story outside of the erotic aspects of the book. Personally, I felt the story stood just fine without all of the sex scenes. I was reminded of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, in some ways.

Mark and Pyah Fischer are private security agents trying to enjoy their honeymoon when everything goes wrong.  An attempt on their lives sends them on a chase where they don’t know where the next attack will come from.

Soon they are on a globe trotting mission to track down their attempted assassin and retrieve a special briefcase. Along the way they manage to get into an assortment of lewd and lascivious adventures.

Underneath this, in my opinion unnecessary and sometimes overdone filler, is a decent story that will keep you turning the page. The non sexual action scenes are well done with dialogue that will make you chuckle at least once. I did find the British slang/phrasing coming from an American “Yankee” a little off putting at times.

Overall, I enjoyed the book despite it being a departure from my usual genres. If you like a chunk of erotica mixed with action, humor, and a bit of sass, grab “Honeymoon at the Hilton ” today.

“Honeymoon At The Hilton” on Amazon

Meet The Author Monday – Tony J Forder

Today on Meet The Author Monday, we are going to talk to Tony J Forder, author of crime novels, “Degrees of Darkness” and “Bad to the Bone“. As usual we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and Tony will be in Green.

First off, Thanks for stopping by Tony. Let’s kick things off with what brought you into the world of literature? Was there a special person or specific moment that inspired you?
Whilst still at Primary school when my parents went to a parent-teacher evening, my teacher showed my parents the book I had in my desk. It was Thunderball, by Ian Fleming. I probably understood very little, but clearly I was an avid reader even then. Alan Garner’s book, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, was the first book to spark my imagination enough for me to remember reading it. It was also one of the first books I bought my daughter. I’d also add A Christmas Carol as a book that influenced me.

Primary school and reading Fleming? I, too, read way above my grade level. As you grew up, what genre pulled at your mind and imagination the most?
Crime thrillers, especially psychological thrillers, excite me. The thrill of the chase, the journey into evil minds, the trail of breadcrumb clues. I include espionage within the thriller genre. Thomas Harris and Michael Connelly are my favourite writers, though I also admire John Lecarre.

Clearly reading these authors wasn’t enough for you, so what made you want to become a writer?
I was still very young, but the magical world so finely linked with the normal world as portrayed in The Weirdstone of Brisingaman intrigued me enough to give it a go myself. All of my early writing stayed within the fantasy/dark fantasy vein, and then when Stephen King, James Herbert and Peter Straub entered my life, it was natural for my writing to expand to include horror.

Stephen King is one of my favorites as well. I don’t think anyone can chill your bone marrow like the him. Did you decide that this would be your area as well? or How would you describe your writing?
I would mash myself up into a crime, psychological, mystery, suspense, espionage, thriller genre.

So you had your inspiration and desire to write, where did it go from there?
As a child and teenager I wrote short stories all the time. Much later I decided to submit a story into a competition, and won it. It was judged by someone from Pan Books, and as part of my prize the story was published in Dark Voices 2 (the new Pan Book of Horror series).
I later had another story published by Pan, in Dark Voices 4, and a third in FEAR magazine.
After that I concentrated on novels. The first was a dark fantasy/horror blend which, whilst not awful, was not very good, either. But I was in a period where my reading habit were moving away from that genre and into the one I enjoy now, so it was natural for my writing to go that way as well.
Degrees of Darkness and Bad to the Bone were written, and then edited by someone I found on-line. Both came close to gaining either/or an agent and publisher, but not close enough.
Committments to a new job plus a debilitating illness meant I stopped writing as much, little more than scraps of ideas or character sketches, etc. Then being made redundant seemed to re-open a door way for my imagination and inspiration, and suddenly I wanted to write again.
I established an on-line presence, made my books available on-line through Amazon, and am now well into another book.

I’m sorry to hear about your illness, but am glad to hear that it reinvigorated your creative flow. What other pursuits make Tony tick?
I am now a part-time ICT consultant to education, and part-time writer. When not working, writing or reading I love music. I play guitar, and still practice quite a lot, and I listen to music as much as I can.
I’m a fan of both football and rugby union, and follow Chelsea FC and England.
I am married, with one daughter – who became my muse for Degrees, something we joke means I ought to be sending her to therapy for.

Sounds like you are a very busy man. Children can be such a joy, and inspire you to work harder to achieve your dreams so that they are inspired to chase theirs. Did you have anything else you would like to share with my readers?
I attended a book signing for Dark Voices 2. I was surrounded by authors whose names were familiar to me. Early on I turned to Brian Lumley (the Necroscope series among others) and confessed that I felt out of place with all these proper writers. He said something I have never forgotten – that the moment you pluck a story from your imagination and set it to paper, you are a proper writer.

Very inspiring words Tony. Thank you for sharing that story and for your time today. I wish you all the best with your work and hopefully will hear from you when that third book comes out.

If anyone would like to find out more or purchase any of Tony’s work, you can find him at the below links.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.

Meet the Author Monday – Zara Altair

Today on Meet the Author Monday we have Zara Altair here to tell us a little about herself and her books. As usual we will put my comments/questions in BLUE and our guest author will be GREEN.

I always like to start off with exploring out my guest authors entered the literary world. Is there a specific person or even that made you a reader?
Wow, Andrew, I’ve been reading since I could read at about the age of five. In our family, reading aloud was a daily tradition, so I could get more stories when I could read myself. Kipling was an early favorite. I loved the way he talked to you, O Best Beloved, as though he were telling the story just to you. Winnie the Pooh, Just So Stories, The Wind in the Willows, both Alice books, Albert Payson Terhune because I loved dogs. Those were early stories. When I was eight we moved to a small town with a local library. The limit was eight books out at any one time. Every Friday after school it was eight books out, eight books in.
Our family had an Encylopedia Britannica which also included a set of books about children in other lands. I read and reread those books.

What genre excites you the most these days?
I’m a reader omnivore. I like political thrillers, crime, mystery, history, the classics and read in English, French, Italian, and Spanish.

Four languages, that’s impressive. When did you decide that you didn’t want to just read stories, but make up your own?
When I was 5, yep, same time I was reading, I met an author of children’s books, Phyllis Ayer Sowers. (https://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3APhyllis%20Ayer%20Sowers) We visited her several times. Her books were stories about kids who lived in other lands. She was charming and gracious and did not talk down to me. That was the moment! In some form or another, I’ve been writing ever since. As a child I wrote stories that were set in foreign lands. As an adult I wrote science fiction.
I had years of short story rejections. When I look back at those stories now, I understand why.
I am a published poet with uncountable readings. I taught poetry to children and adults through the Poets-In-The-Schools program.
The stories I have out are short historical mysteries as part of an ongoing series.

That’s incredible that you were able to teach, a highly underrated profession. So what are you working on at the moment?
For the present, I am writing mysteries. They are fun to write. My longer work in progress is set in the same time period, early 6th Century Italy under the Ostrogoths, but is a thriller more than a mystery.
I started writing the mysteries, with the same protagonist, for fun while I work on the novel.

So a children’s author was a big catalyst for your desire to write. Where did your journey go from there?
Ah, the journey. That childhood dream was crushed by my father, who heavily criticized everything I wrote. Yeah, not fun. It took me a long time to recover from that “not good enough” feeling.
At one point I had an agent for a children’s book about a child who had a new sibling that come home from the hospital. There was a tussle with several publishers over including “umbilical cord” in the book. They felt it was too big for pre-schoolers to understand. My feeling was, Nonsense, every child knows Tyrannosaurus Rex. It didn’t get published. I still feel the same way. 🙂
I had ideas for more books, but was told that the agency would not represent me without an author platform and a marketing program in place. This was before the internet, the cost of PR managers and book tours seemed astronomical at the time.
More recently, I had a futuristic fantasy rejected several times.
Then I discovered the world of self-publishing! The world was wide open. I decided to share my short stories with no intention of making money. I have a tiny trickle of royalties each month.
The algorithms, and readers, like a minimum of three books. I’m working on the third story now.
Andrew, you are so right: it is a journey. Writing stories is just part of being an author. There’s setting up a website, writing articles/blogs, participating in social media, growing the fan base. And finding and working with a cover designer and editors…and writing more stories.
I have two editors, one content editor who catches those places where the story has a glitch like pacing and character development, and a copy editor who looks at sentence structure, wording, and the tiny elements of syntax. Each in their own way makes my stories better.

That’s great that you didn’t let rejection, either familiar or professional, get you down. The world of self-publishing is great for us “little guys” to get our stories out there. When you aren’t writing, how do you spend your time?
I live near Portland, Oregon among the tall trees by the side of a creek. It’s a peaceful environment, very conducive to writing time.
I work (day job) as a content writer focused on semantic writing for the web. I also have one current ghostwriting book project, a thriller. So when I’m not writing, I’m writing.
I consult with a select few writers on the writing process and their writing journey.
I’m a voracious reader. And I listen to audiobooks.
I love being outdoors and go on frequent trail walks.
My two grown children are two of my best friends. My son lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter (my granddaughter). My daughter lives with her husband in Hampshire County, England.

Clearly its difficult to keep your fingers off the keys or a pen out of your hands. I want to thank you for stopping by and introducing yourself Zara. Do you have any final thoughts or words of wisdom for my readers?
Thank you, Andrew, for the invitation to chat with you and your readers.
Someone asked me recently where I get my inspiration. Stories come to me and say, Tell me. It doesn’t stop until the story is told.
The idea for the Argolicus Mysteries came from a conversation with my daughter. She was telling me why I should go to Ravenna, Italy. As she chatted along, she said, “And he led his people across the frozen Danube and eventually came to Italy.” In my mind I wondered, what was it like to live then.
I did go to Ravenna and met with professors at Universitá di Bologna, Ravenna, who were amazed that some crazy woman from the West Coast of the United States wanted to write about Ravenna at the time of King Theodoric. I came home with 36 kilos of books which they generously gave me.
Fortunately, my daughter who had gone to school twice in Italy prepared me for Italian professors, you must prove your point before they answer a question. When I pointed to a mosaic of a ship and asked a professor if that was what ships looked like in 514 A.D. he answered: No, no, no. Then for forty minutes he rummaged around in his bookshelves showing me images of ships. For each one, I would answer something like: No, those were Visigoths in Spain and that was a few years later. I had a reason for why each illustration he showed me wasn’t right. At the end of 40 minutes, once again I held up the drawing of the ship and asked, So, in 514 the ships would look like this. He answered, Yes, yes, yes.
Research about the period is challenging because when the Emperor Justinian retook Italy, he had a major campaign to eliminate all evidence of the Ostrogoths.
Argolicus was a real person at the time of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. He is mentioned nine times in Cassiodorus’ Variae (iii 11, iii 12, iii 29, iii 30, iii 33, iv 22, iv 25, iv 29, iv 42) as praefectus urbis of Rome. His childhood and ongoing friendship with Cassiodorus come from my imagination as well as his retirement in the very southern tip of Italy, the setting for the mystery series.
His call to Ravenna and appointment as comitiacus officium in Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic also originated in an idea.
The mysteries are set far away from the capital in southern Italy in 512 A.D. Felix Ravenna: A Mosaic is set two years later in Ravenna during the year 514 A.D.
Your readers can find me on Amazon and just about anywhere ebooks are sold.
The Peach Widow cover2.jpgused-virgin-cover

I hope they will take the opportunity to look up your works. For those looking for Zara’s stories, here are the links you can use.

Website
Facebook Page
Twitter
You Tube
Google+
Amazon Author Page

And if any authors out there reading this want to be featured on Meet The Author Monday, You can CLICK HERE for more information.